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As we enter Volume 20 of Prehospital and Disaster Medicine (PDM), many important advances have been implemented or are about to occur. What follows is a brief summary of what we are doing to make your Journal even better.
The end of the Cold War vastly altered the worldwide political landscape. With the loss of a main competitor, the United States (US) military has had to adapt its strategic, operational, and tactical doctrines to an ever-increasing variety of non-traditional missions, including humanitarian operations. Complex emergencies (CEs) are defined in this paper from a political and military perspective, various factors that contribute to their development are described, and issues resulting from the employment of US military forces are discussed. A model was developed to illustrate the course of a humanitarian emergency and the potential impact of a military response. The US intervention in Haiti, Northern Iraq, Kosovo, Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda serve as examples.
A CE develops when there is civil conflict, loss of national governmental authority, a mass population movement, and massive economic failure, each leading to a general decline in food security. The military can alleviate a CE in four ways: (1) provide security for relief efforts; (2) enforce negotiated settlements; (3) provide security for non-combatants; and/or (4) employ logistical capabilities.
The model incorporates Norton and Miskel's taxonomy of identifying failing states and helps illustrate the factors that lead to a CE. The model can be used to determine if and when military intervention will have the greatest impact. The model demonstrates that early military intervention and mission assignment within the core competencies of the forces can reverse the course of a CE. Further study will be needed to verify the model.
The true threat of bioterrorism remains mysterious and elusive to the common citizen. It principally has become the dominion of a few “experts”, many of whom have limited apparent expertise, who have failed to effectively communicate the risks and realities to society, and have instead created an air of uncertainty surrounding the topic. Unlike the great classic deceptions of modern life (e.g., “the check is in the mail”), the misinformation and misperceptions associated with bioterrorism can be dangerous and are not merely humorous. Indeed, it is possible to grasp the facts as well as fallacies associated with bioterrorism, and, as a result, demystify this nightmare scenario and prepare for the “unthinkable”.
The Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake and subsequent Asian Tsunami of 26 December 2004 affected multiple countries in the Indian Ocean and beyond, creating disasters of a scale unprecedented in recorded history. Using the Conceptual Framework and terminology described in the Disaster Health Management: Guidelines for Evaluation and Research in the Utstein Style, the hazard, events, and damage associated with the Earthquake and Tsunami are described. Many gaps in the available information regarding this event are present. Standardized indicators and reporting criteria are necessary for research on future disasters and the development of best practice standards internationally.
This article considers the critical roles of risk and risk assessment in the management of health emergencies and disasters. The Task Force on Quality Control of Disaster Management (TFQCDM) has defined risk as the “objective (mathematical) or subjective (inductive) probability that something negative will occur (happen)”. Risks with the greatest relevance to health emergency management include: (1) the probability that a health hazard exists or will occur; (2) the probability that the hazard will become an event; (3) the probability that the event will lead to health damage; and (4) the probability that the health damage will lead to a health disaster. The overall risk of a health disaster is the product of these four probabilities.
Risk assessments are the tools that help systems at risk—healthcare organizations, communities, regions, states, and countries—transform their visceral reactions to threats into rational strategies for risk reduction. Type I errors in risk assessment occur when situations are predicted that do not occur (risk is overestimated). Type II errors in risk assessment occur when situations are not predicted that do occur (risk is underestimated). Both types of error may have serious, even lethal, consequences.
Errors in risk assessment may be reduced through strategies that optimize risk assessment, including the:(1) adoption of the TFQCDM definition of risk and other terms; (2) specification of the system at risk and situations of interest (hazard, event, damage, and health disaster); (3) adoption of a best practice approach to risk assessment methodology; (4) assembly of the requisite range of expert participants and information; (5) adoption of an evidence-based approach to using information; (6) exclusion of biased, irrelevant, and obsolete information; and (7) complete characterizations of any underlying fault and event trees.